Iran: Seven converts in Rasht released on bail

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Iranian Christians are thankful that seven members of the “Church of Iran” who were recently arrested have been allowed release on bail.

Hossein Kadivar was the first to be released on Saturday 16 March. On Sunday and Monday, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Behnam Akhlaghi, Kamal Naamanian, Mohammed Vafada and Khalil Dehkanpour were also released, reportedly after submitting bail of 150 million Toman (USD 12,000) each. Mehdi Khatibi is expected to be released on bail today. The charges against them are not known. They expect to be summoned to court, but there is no indication when this might happen.

Khalil Dehkanpour and Hossein Kadivar were arrested at the end of January and detained in Lakan Prison. Their pastor, Abdolreza (Matthias) Haghnejad was arrested at his home on 10 February and Kamal Naamanian, Mohammed Vafada and Shahrooz Eslamdous were arrested on 15 February. Three more church members, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Mehdi Khatibi and Behnam Akhlaghi were arrested on 23 February.

Matthias Haghnejad and Shahrooz Eslamdous remain detained. Matthias is charged with action against national security and promoting Zionist Christianity.

Friends of those arrested are grateful that the seven have been permitted release on bail, but request prayer that:

a. Matthias and Shahrooz will also be released and that the charges against them will be dropped
b. The active churches and Christians in Iran will be strengthened and prepared to face opposition
c. Iranian authorities will stop targeting Christians and other religious minorities

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